By The Associated Press
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Yet with his sparkling grin, Larry Hagman masterfully created the charmingly loathsome oil baron — and coaxed forth a Texas-size gusher of ratings — on television's long-running and hugely successful nighttime soap, "Dallas."
Although he first gained fame as nice guy Major Tony Nelson on the fluffy 1965-70 NBC comedy "I Dream of Jeannie," Hagman earned his greatest stardom with J.R.
PDN READERS — Any memories out there about this 81-year-old actor who died of complications from his battle with cancer?
Or about his iconic TV roles? Please comment below.
Five things to know about "Dallas" star Larry Hagman:
1. HIS FAMOUS MOM
Hagman was the son of singer-actress Mary Martin, who starred in such classics as "South Pacific" and "Peter Pan." Martin was still in her teens when he was born in 1931 during her marriage to attorney Ben Hagman.
2. HOW HE FIRST GAINED FAME
Years before "Dallas," Hagman was on "I Dream of Jeannie," in which he played an astronaut whose life is disrupted when he finds a comely genie, portrayed by Barbara Eden, and takes her home to live with him.
3. HIS REAL LIFE ADVOCACY
Hagman was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and acknowledged that he drank heavily for years. He had a transplant after a malignant tumor was discovered in 1995, and it turned him into an advocate for organ donation and a hospital volunteer. He was also an anti-smoking activist who took part in "Great American Smoke-Out" campaigns.
4. WHAT HE WANTED ON J.R.'s TOMBSTONE
"It should say: 'Here lies upright citizen J.R. Ewing. This is the only deal he ever lost,'" Hagman said in 1988.
5. WHO SHOT J.R.?
The answer to that cliffhanger was one of the most-watched television events in history. It was J.R.'s sister-in-law, Kristin (Mary Crosby) — he had made her pregnant, then threatened to frame her as a prostitute unless she left town.
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